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Movies, Games, and New iPods

iPod fans got a look at their digital future this week as Steve Jobs announced new products and services at Apple Expo Paris.

The iPod nano received a facelift and new colors. Many owners of first-generation nanos had complained about scratches on the plastic case. Apple’s response was to give the nano a new brushed aluminum housing in five colors (natural aluminum, blue, black, pink, and green). The new nano also boasts improved battery life, a brighter display, and capacity up to 8 GB.

The iPod shuffle has changed dramatically. What formerly looked like a Flash Drive is now a postage-stamp-sized clip-on device with 1 GB of storage. No longer do you plug the shuffle directly into your USB port - there’s now a diminutive dock for charging and syncing.

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p>Owners of fifth-generation iPods with video can rejoice! Not only has Apple announced the availability of full-length movies from the Disney/Pixar library, but also a firmware update provides new capabilities. A new search function makes it easy to find tunes in your library of up to 25,000 songs. For the first time, classic games such as Bejeweled, Zuma, Texas Hold ‘em, and Tetris are available for the iPod. The games can be downloaded for $4.99 each and represent the first time that third-party software has appeared on the iPod. Capacities have also climbed, with the entry-level iPod at 30GB, and the top-of-the-line iPod reaching the 80 GB mark.

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p>The iTunes Music Store is a thing of the past - it’s now the iTunes Store. The name change reflects the growing influence of other media - such as games, TV shows, and movies - on the iPod world.

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Go Running With Your iPod

June 16, 2006 – The Nike + iPod Sport Kit ($29) is now shipping, providing yet another use for the iPod “beyond the music.” When you slip the wireless sensor into a pair of Nike+ running shoes and attach the wireless receiver to your iPod nano, you can track your time spent walking or running, distance, pace, and calories burned. The iPod nano can even provide spoken feedback to alert you to milestones during your workout.

The wireless sensor uses a tiny accelerometer to capture your progress, then transmits the information to your iPod nano. Once you’re done with your run, perform a sync to transfer workout data to iTunes and nikeplus.com. At nikeplus.com, your peformance history is captured, and you can set goals for your future runs. One fun feature lets you challenge other runners to virtual races.

For more information on the Nike + iPod Sport Kit, visit the Apple - Nike + iPod - Gear page.

Microsoft Improves Entourage and iPod Syncing

March 21, 2006 – Microsoft’s Office 2004 for Mac 11.2.3 update adds new features to Entourage that allow it to sync contact and calendar information to any software or device that uses Apple’s iSync technology, including the iPod. While I haven’t tested the update with my iPod, this built-in syncing option may be a good and less expensive way to sync your data rather than using one of the third-party utilities I discuss in the ebook. To access the update, choose Help > Check for Updates in any Office program or launch Microsoft Auto-Update from your Applications folder.

The iPod Hi-Fi Ships

March 3, 2006 – Are you looking for a way to get amazing stereo sound out of your iPod? Apple’s iPod Hi-Fi ($349) may be just the thing. Any iPod with a dock adapter can blast sound out of the Hi-Fi and get charged at the same time. This works well with the built-in alarm function to make a very iPod loud alarm clock. Check it out on the Apple Web site: http://www.apple.com/ipodhifi/

Apple Ships New Nano; Drops Shuffle Price

February 7, 2006 – Apple is now shipping a 1 GB iPod nano for $149. The new nano is equipped with all the features of the 2 GB ($199) and 4 GB ($249) models. With the price of the 512 MB ($69) and 1GB ($99) iPod shuffle dropping, it appears that Apple might be moving to retire the shuffle, which is the only iPod without a screen.

XtremeMac Announces High Quality Audio Recording for iPod

January 10, 2006 – You will finally be able to use your iPod with video as a high-quality audio recorder when XtremeMac’s MicroMemo arrives later this spring. This $79.95 device will use the iPod’s batteries for power and feature a removable flexible microphone. Visit XremeMac’s website for more details.

Steve Jobs Announces iPod Enhancements

January 10, 2006 – At Macworld Expo in San Francisco, Steve Jobs announced hardware and software products that enhance the iPod:

  • Apple’s new $49 Radio Remote: Plugging into the top of the iPod, this device adds an FM radio tuner to your iPod so you can listen to local broadcasts. Although it doesn’t record those broadcasts to your iPod, it does transform the screen into a reasonable facsimile of a digital FM tuner.
  • iMovie HD 6: Software enhancements now make transferring videos to an iPod with video a lot easier. What used to take several programs and multiple steps can now be accomplished simply with iMovie HD 6 (part of iLife ‘06). When you finish creating your video masterpiece in iMovie HD, you “Export to iPod” to save the movie in the proper screen size and format for the iPod’s screen. iMovie HD doesn’t streamline the process of moving DVD content to your iPod…yet.

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